New Research Claims Coronavirus May Spread Through Air

COVID-19. Photo: CDC
COVID-19. Photo: CDC

As the scientists are struggling to know the traits of coronavirus (COVID-19), new research reveals that this virus can also spread through the air.

So far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had maintained that coronavirus is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, and the virus does not travel through the air.

However, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) suggests that the novel coronavirus can spread through the air—not just through the large droplets emitted in a cough or sneeze, but you may be able to spread coronavirus just by breathing.

Thus far, according to an article published in the Science magazine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies have insisted the primary route of transmission for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is through the larger respiratory droplets, up to 1 millimeter across, that people expel when they cough and sneeze.

Gravity grounds these droplets within 1 or 2 meters, although they deposit the virus on surfaces, from which people can pick it up and infect themselves by touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

But if the coronavirus can be suspended in the ultrafine mist that we produce when we exhale, the article says, protection becomes more difficult, strengthening the argument that all people should wear masks in public to reduce unwitting transmission of the virus from asymptomatic carriers.

Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, also suggests that the new coronavirus might spread through the air via normal breathing and speaking. That’s why now the U.S. government is recommending the use of face masks for everyone.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.

According to CDC, the recent studies suggest that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.

This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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Rakesh Raman